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new here- feel like I don't get it

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by cbeth, Dec 27, 2015.

  1. cbeth

    cbeth Newcomer

    Hello- new here- first post. Hoping I can get some help.

    I started seeing a chiropractor this past week after 2 years of fairly severe back pain having tried numerous avenues of treatment including physical therapy, acupuncture, another chiropractor, 3 guided spinal injections (2 with no results, one quite helpful for a limited time).
    This dr. suggested Sarno's book which I picked up from the library immediately after my first appointment. First appointment was 45 minutes, 2nd a half hour. Dr. appears very skilled (super busy practice!) and came with unqualified recommendation from another chiropractor friend. Although he expressed that I should have felt immediate relief after each manipulation I felt absolutely no change in pain levels. He also had me lie on a mat (I think they said it gave off an electromagnetic charge of some sort?) for a half hour. No change from that either- in fact I hobbled out of the office to my car- significantly worse than when I walked in. Getting up anytime I've been lying down leaves me stiff and this was no exception.

    I am also now on day 5 of the structured program which I discovered while researching this whole treatment plan. So far the doctor has given me no information about anything I should be doing outside of the treatment sessions I'm getting from him in the office (other than suggesting I read Sarno's book).

    I feel committed to pursuing this treatment as I'm at my wit's end with the pain. Where I'm having difficulty embracing it is seeing how my personality fits with the models presented as typically prone to TMS.
    I did show signs of anxiety and depression as a child and have spent many years of my life in and out of therapy. Sarno speaks of repressed emotions as arising from an abililty to cope only too well. Sadly (and it's a drag to admit) I wouldn't say I've coped all that well in my life with my anxiety. If anything, I'd say I've wallowed in it. One thing I can say with a fair amount of certainty is that I'm a pretty self-aware kind of person. I guess what I'm trying to say is- I have already spent an inordinate amount of time in my life "navel gazing" (if anything I believe way TOO much time) so it's very hard for me to see how simply "recognizing the psychological source" of my pain is going to help in making it go away. This is not to say that I don't believe that stress may be the cause of all of this, simply that I'm not seeing the way out at this point.

    So- I'm hoping to hear from some folks out there who might be able to shed some light on all this for me, considering specifically how I've described myself. I really want to get better and I'm open to any thoughtful suggestions anyone with insight might have.
    Thanks in advance.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, cbeth You explained well that you have been concerned about your health and pain and anxiety all your life. I thought it was good for me to think of other things, so I spent most of my 85 years distracting myself, with work and pleasures. Three years ago I began having severe back pain and that led me to reading Dr. Sarno's book Healing Back Pain. I realized I had been repressing emotions since I was seven when my parents divorced. Journaling in t he Structured Educational Program led me to understanding all that better and I was able to forgive my parents and any guilt I felt, and forgiving them and myself ended the back pain.

    I suggest you start the SEProgram, free in the subforum of this web site, to help you to discover the emotions causing your pain. You have found your way to the TMS fountain, now all you have to do is drink from it. And believe 100 percent that TMS "penicillin" will heal you, as Dr. Sarno says it will.
    mike2014 likes this.
  3. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Welcome to the Forum!

    I think a good place for you to start is by reading the Success Stories in the sub-forum here. Many of them include what helped the person most in their recovery. Because TMS involves the brain, the phenomenon is very complex and individualized, but there are some common threads about what is helpful. So I would start there and you may find that some resonate with you more than others.

    I never found chiropractic or alternative health care to be helpful in my recovery, beyond some initial placebo effect. Once you accept that you have TMS, it is recommended to stop those types of treatment, unless just doing it for temporary relief, like taking an aspirin. They will not cure TMS.

    Keep exploring with an open mind. Be patient and persistent and you will find healing if you truly have TMS.
    Anne Walker and mike2014 like this.
  4. cbeth

    cbeth Newcomer

    Thanks Walt and Ellen,
    As I said, I've started the SEP program already. Walt, I think you seem to have the personality traits that lie squarely within the model for TMS sufferers- living a life in which you were able to distract yourself from emotional concerns until late in life. So I can see how the program would serve you well.
    Also, I have been in good health all my life and would not say I've ever been particularly concerned about it. Even now, although I am in considerable pain on and off I don't worry that what's causing it is anything physically serious. It doesn't matter to me right now though whether it's physically serious or not- I'm in enough pain that I'm unable to participate in activities that I have previously found enjoyable, and if I try to ignore the pain and go ahead I really pay later with triple the pain.
    Ellen, I'm going to take your advice and read more of the success stories. Hopefully I'll find some that resonate more than what I've read thus far.
  5. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Cbeth,

    Although there are certain personality types that are more susceptible to TMS than others, no one is immune. The reason for that is that it is a common physical response to distract the mind. Pain and anxiety are TMS equivalents. The big question is what is your mind trying to distract you from? The answer to that is very individual and complex. For some it can be as simple as knowing that is what is going on for the pain to go away, they do not need exact answers as to what they are being distracted from. For others it is a lengthy process of self discovery and investigation. Instead of trying to figure out whether you fit a particular TMS profile, I would ask if you have any idea why you have had chronic back pain for several years. It sounds as though you have seen doctors and tried numerous therapies. Having resisted the idea of TMS for myself over 20 years ago and opting for back surgery instead and then suffering many, many additional years of back pain and other chronic pain conditions, I sincerely wish I had made a greater effort to embrace the idea of TMS when I first was introduced to it. When I came back around to looking at TMS theory again 20 years later, it was out of desperation. I then had chronic neck pain and doctors were once again recommending surgery. I was afraid and did not want to go through that again. Here I am several years later, no chronic pain, no additional surgery, and although I have spent most of my life "navel gazing" I have a much deeper understanding of myself because of the work I did to recover from the chronic pain caused by TMS.
    I strongly recommend that you research "outcome independence" on this site. It was a very frustrating concept for me when I first started working on my TMS. Everyone was talking about how important it is to believe 100% that you have TMS in order to recover, and yet I had a lot of resistance and doubt. I wanted proof in the form of pain relief before I could really believe, and yet you have to believe in order to get the proof! I remember days being really angry about this. Like most of us, I just wanted to be in less pain. Eventually, and very slowly, I finally was able to focus on the work without constantly monitoring if it was effecting my pain levels. When the pain finally did go away, I could not pinpoint the day it actually left.
  6. lexylucy

    lexylucy Well known member

    Anxiety in and of itself can be a TMS symptom similar to backpain. When we feel a free floating anxiety about this or that - sometimes nothing important or pressing - it can distract from deeper emotions. I would say start journaling and see if any surprises come up. See if you can listen to any thing the pain may be telling you :)

    welcome to the forum and keep us posted!

  7. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi cbeth,

    I think you have gotten your questions addressed pretty well. I will add a couple of more things.

    When we first contemplate Dr. Sarno's work, each of us has a personal list of "reasons it does not apply to me." Observe your reservations, try to get answers from the forum and research, and ultimately keep in mind that there will always be "an objection looking for a concrete reason." In other words, doubt is part of the process you are learning to witness.

    Anne addressed this next issue a little, but I will say further: I had personally done 15 years of psychological/spiritual investigation --navel gazing if you will, when I came across Dr. Sarno's work. As per my observation about doubt above, I experienced this specific doubt -----that "I already knew so much about myself, how can I be blindsided by something psychological?"

    It was only when I really began to inquire into my doubts and my self-images that the Sarno method began to work. Here is a link to that on this site http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/exploring-doubts-about-dr-sarnos-work.7354/ You might find it interesting.

    I urge you not to believe that "because I have done years of navel gazing this can't apply to me." One of Dr. Sarno's cases explores a woman who had over a decade of therapy, yet only got better when she put her understanding of herself into the Sarno theory. That is what worked for me. When I accepted that I had TMS, I could easily connect all my inner learning (mostly from the past) into a framework that explained why I had pain. This "seeing the real reason for my pain" ---and not doing anything in particular about it, was one of the keys in my recovery. I avoided surgery and regained my activities.

    I hope this helps!

    Andy B.
    Anne Walker likes this.
  8. cbeth

    cbeth Newcomer

    Thanks Anne, Lexy, and Andy for your direct responses to my questions.

    I don't find it difficult to see how my past and present anxiety has led to these pain issues, so in terms of accepting whether I have TMS that part isn't too hard. I also have not felt that any doctor has indicated to me that whatever "problems" that showed up on the MRI were causing my pain. What I'm not getting a grasp of is how to use that acceptance to solve the problem. I think what makes this so difficult is that as humans we use our experiences to inform our decisions and throwing that all out the window negates everything about being human!! To ignore that fact that if I spend my day building cement walls (projects I've done in the past where I ended up with horrific pain afterwards) I won't feel like crap later doesn't seem to make any sense. It's not that I'm worried I'll make the condition worse in terms of a "health" standpoint, it's that I know it will make it worse in terms of a PAIN standpoint, and this is what we're all here trying to get rid of, right?
  9. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi cbeth,

    You may be able to build concrete walls again, pain free, but I would not suggest you do it now, if that is what is causing pain. The conditioning will ease off over time. So that yes, the concrete building will not trigger symptoms. But that is a gradual, and sometimes several months process for most...

    This is the strange "miracle" of Dr. Sarno's approach. There is plenty of doubt that it will work in most who use it. Just apply the practices, do the SEP, etc, and look for small changes, and review them every day. It takes time for the information to go deeper, and your incredulity is expected in the beginning! The fact that you don't grasp it will not prevent it from working, if you continue to be open to the theory explaining why you are in pain.

    Andy B.
  10. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Cbeth. I am laughing a little bit because I think what many of us here have in common is the tendency to over analyze everything. If you are not used to building cement walls and you spend the day lifting cement, it is perfectly normal for your muscles to be tired and to feel some pain. Likewise, if you suddenly spend 10 hours hiking up a mountain and you haven't been hiking in a while, you are going to feel it(of course, I have done this and could barely move for a few days). We are not super human. TMS does not mean that it is impossible to over exert or injure ourselves. There are some common chronic pain diagnoses that TMS does question, such as carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia, bulging discs etc. The reason is that with bulging discs for instance, lots and lots of people have then and experience no pain. So why do they cause pain in some and not others? I remember when the disc in my lower back first ruptured and one neurosurgeon told me that it was really good that I was experiencing pain on the same side as the rupture. I thought that was so strange at the time. Now I realize that it was because in his practical experience, many of his patients pain did not correspond to the structural abnormalities he was seeing. If you have no problem accepting that your pain is due to TMS, then I would start focusing on your life and not the pain. Start with observing what you spend your time thinking about. Is it something related to the pain? If so, then you are being distracted by it. I used to think about my pain levels every morning when I woke up. Even if I was not in pain, that is what I thought about. It was hard for me to imagine anything else. Now I think about whether it is raining, my work, whether my puppy will need a sweater when I take her out, my husband... It amazes me how normal this feels now. Living without constantly thinking about the pain.
    David88, Tennis Tom and Boston Redsox like this.
  11. cbeth

    cbeth Newcomer

    First off- I REALLY appreciate you all taking the time to address my concerns-
    Looking at it now I'm thinking the cement work reference might have seemed silly. I think I brought it up to point to an activity that I believe contributed to my current pain (I have to believe that the idea is that deferred anxiety is expressed in distorted ways of holding the body or posture that then LEAD to pain?) and that I can not continue to do. I'm not talking about normal muscle aches- I'm talking about flat on my back, very specific non muscular and sciatic pain that lasts for weeks.
    So- on the one hand we are supposed to think about what's going on in our life but not the pain, while we are working daily on the structured programs which are about getting rid of the pain even though they focus on non-pain related issues? How does that work? I didn't start thinking about the pain or worrying about it until I got it. It didn't occur to me (or to any of us I suspect) that we would become consumed with "pain worry" until it happened.
    It seems there are really two things here which are quite separate- the START of the pain, and the obsessive or ruminative continuing worries about the pain.

    Since my last post I've gone back to the Dr. who, although he's a chiropractor has told me that he's not doing any chiropractic treatments on me- just energy work. Still no success. He also gave me some prolotherapy injections but I'm not seeing any change from that either (yet).
  12. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    There are some good questions here, which point to basic conundrums and perceived conflicts as we try to use Dr. Sarno's approach.

    How do I work on pain without focusing on the pain?
    1)You do the work psychologically, not with energy work or etc.
    2)You develop "outcome independence" or "non-attachment to the results." You do the SEP, and if you observe pain, you work to witness it, and not get swept up in the fear about it or the desire to "fix it." Ultimately you are building a very strong muscle: the muscle to "not care." That muscle will serve your TMS symptoms the rest of your life. It is not a "nateral" stance toward pain. That is why it has to be built over time and practice. This is how you address the "pain worry."
    3)Yes, you're working on something to get rid of the pain, but.... very new practice to take in life, indeed!!

    Good luck in this challenging and interesting engagement. Remember, you do not have to do any of it "right." You just do the action, and observe the doubts, fears, etc. if they arise.

    Andy B.
    Boston Redsox likes this.
  13. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Cbeth, I can see that you are really struggling, which is part of the problem.

    You are trying way too hard, and you are definitely over-analyzing.

    By going back to the chiropractor, who gave you GREAT advice when he recommended Dr. Sarno, you have clearly not accepted the core concept of TMS.

    All body and energy work are placebos, and they often work temporarily to provide relief, depending upon the trust and faith the patient places in the practitioner. But they are not the road to recovery, which is why Dr. Sarno recommends not doing them while you are trying to recover using TMS theory and techniques.

    Anxiety is just another form of TMS. It is actually a very shallow mental activity, designed to keep you stressed out and distracted, with tons of surface chatter running around in your conscious brain.

    Stress is not the cause of your symptoms - the stress comes from the repression of negative emotions that come up as the result of outside stressors, which is subtly different. Most of us are "stressed" because we take on too many responsibilities, which is the result of not knowing how to say NO, which is the result of wanting to be agreeable so people will like us, because that's how we survived childhood and either got positive attention from our parents, or avoided negative attention from our parents.

    Let me say that again: current stressors result in behaviors that are linked to the way we survived childhood, which is where the original negative emotions came from. Our brains are repressing those emotions because they think we won't survive if we acknowledge them - instead, they repress them and distract us with shallow symptoms like anxiety and depression - and believe me, when I say "shallow", I'm not trying to minimize either anxiety or depression, both of which were the TMS symptoms that really got my attention, scared the beejezus out of me, and made me desperate enough to try anything. I'm just trying to emphasize that anxiety and depression are not emotions, and they do not reside deep in our unconscious minds - they are designed to distract our conscious minds.

    In other words, your brain is doing an incredibly good job at keeping you fully distracted from much deeper negative emotions that it thinks you can't possibly handle acknowledging and examining. The thing is, these negative emotions don't have to be particularly earth-shattering. Many of us come from pretty normal upbringings without major trauma or dysfunction, but as Freud told us, every human has a core of primitive rage at being forced into this world and out of the safety of our mother's arms. From infancy to childhood to adulthood, the rest of our lives are pretty much full of challenges that often cause us grief, anger, guilt, shame, and fear, with the ultimate awareness and fear of our mortality always hanging over us, and that is a biggie that is often deemed unacceptable to acknowledge.

    To break the repression/distraction cycle, you need to really listen to the brain chatter, recognize how negative and self-defeating it is, and learn to turn it off and/or replace it with more constructive messages so that you can go a lot deeper and face and accept the negative emotions. That's where freedom and recovery are.
    Anne Walker and Boston Redsox like this.
  14. David88

    David88 Well known member

    Hi cbeth,

    Yes, TMS can be very confusing at first. You're asking good questions.

    To answer your question, while the start of pain and the continuing worry are different things, they are both TMS symptoms.

    TMS is about distraction. The pain, the anxiety about the pain, the restrictions caused by pain, and even the worry about whether this or that treatment will work, are all distractions. Anything that holds your attention can be a TMS equivalent.

    As others have said, "wallowing in anxiety" is not being self-aware. The anxiety is a distraction.

    For example, after joining this site, I dithered anxiously for months before I made an appointment with Dr. Gwozdz, the nearest TMS specialist to me. When I finally talked to him, I mentioned that. His very insightful response: the dithering is TMS, too. It was just another distraction, something that held my attention until I finally got past it.

    What is TMS distracting you from? That's what you must find out. It will be some inner conflict, something out of balance in your life, that you're not yet aware of. The SEP is one of many ways to get through the distraction to what's underneath.

    Last edited: Jan 1, 2016
  15. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member


    you just got the best advice from all that repsonded i also took this advice and i have been on my journey for over a year and there is one thing they all said which you should take to heart, is dont try to HEAL.
  16. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Happy new year! You need to immerse yourself in TMS books by Dr. Sarno and those who have written books after learning from him and being healed. You're "vocabulary" is still of the structural. To be blunt, I don't consider a chiroquacter to be a doctor by any stretch of the imagination--been there, done that. "Energy work" is a way of him saving his energy and transferring your money into his wallet effortlessly. Prolotherapy is quackery, a placebo sugar pill in the form of an injection, do a google search for prolotherapy+quackery and you'll find lots on it below the fold. The only changes you'll see from it would be placebo and your un-C isn't falling for it "yet"--but if you spend enough money on it, it may eventually buy into it--but most things heal after a couple of weeks on their own.

    Sorry to be so blunt, but it's a new year and why waste time on BS'ing around, just trying to get you kick-started in the right direction and I've got to get into the pool and onto the tennis courts to get ready for the January tournaments down in the desert.

    The best thing you can do to TMS heal--and the least costly will be to curl-up with a TMS book, a glass of wine and absorb the KNOWLEDGE PENICILLIN, word for word, until it sinks in and eliminates the mumbo-jumbo voodoo quick'quack fixes.

  17. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    well said TT love when chiro want to be called Dr lol....energy healing? maybe when it comes to your own mind over your own body but anything other than that is a scam period.
    Tennis Tom likes this.
  18. Susan1111

    Susan1111 Well known member

    Anxiety about the pain or as I also call it an obsession about my neck/pain...is another symptom confirming I do indeed have TMS! I needed to see this. Thank you!
    David88 likes this.
  19. cbeth

    cbeth Newcomer

    Can someone please explain to me what exactly a TMS specialist does?
  20. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi cbeth,

    The physician specialists look over your history, examine you, and try to determine if you have TMS, or not.

    The psychological specialists use their understanding of Dr. Sarno's theories to support clients inquiry into the real causes of the pain/symptoms. You can read on the Forum "Ask a TMS Therapist" and get lots of info on how this profession views TMS, and works with clients.

    Hope this helps.

    Andy B.

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